As protests against police brutality following George Floyd’s death continue, Jeff Tweedy has penned an essay calling for the music industry at large to donate to Black Lives Matter. The Wilco frontman shared his thoughts in a lengthy Instagram post today, writing, “Thousands of us committing to a reparations initiative could change our business and the world we live in.”
It’s not an exaggeration to say the modern music industry was built almost entirely on Black art. Tweedy begins his essay by acknowledging so and explaining how no single artist could “come close to paying the debt we owe to the Black originators of our modern music.” As such, he calls for an “industry-wide plan” hat allows songwriters and musicians to direct a percentage of their “writer’s share” revenue to organizations that assist and support Black communities.
Tweedy then offers up a few examples of how to continually and efficiently pay the Black community who helped birth music: “This could take the shape of a box to check on rights management contracts, putting it at the foundation of our business. Or it could take another shape entirely. I don’t possess the expertise to manifest this initiative, but I can begin to do my part by committing 5% of my writer revenue to organizations that are working toward racial justice, which include but are not limited to Movement for Black Lives and Black Women’s Blueprint.”
To conclude his proposal, Tweedy turns the attention to the major labels who have artists, big and small, pinned beneath them with strict contracts. “To BMI, ASCAP, SESAC, and all other organizations that collect and disburse songwriter’s royalties, I ask you to please investigate a way to implement such a program,” he writes. “To industry leaders: please join me in forming a coalition. My small contribution alone is a sincere but insufficient gesture. Hundreds of us joining together could provide some tremendous relief. Thousands of us committing to a reparations initiative could change our business and the world we live in. Black Lives Matter. Thank you.”
Read his full statement below.
This may read like a massive proposal, and in many ways it is a huge plan, but it would be much easier to pull off — and obviously with huge, immediate benefits — than it sounds. Reparations aren’t a new idea. A larger industry-wide push to help make them happen, on the other hand, would be a groundbreaking moment because it’s long overdue — and Tweedy just wants to do his part to stop allowing it to be delayed even more.